July 2012: hottest month in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:16 PM GMT on August 10, 2012

During the 1930s, a series of epic heat waves gripped the U.S., drying up the soil in an unprecedented drought that brought about the great Dust Bowl. The most intense heat hit during July 1936, which set a record for hottest month in U.S. history that stood for 76 years. That iconic record has now fallen, bested by 0.2°F during July 2012, which is now the hottest month in U.S. history, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) this week. So far in 2012, we've had the warmest March on record, 3rd warmest April, 2nd warmest May, and warmest July. These remarkably warm months have helped push temperatures in the contiguous U.S. to the warmest on record for the year-to-date period of January - July, and for the 12-month period August 2011 - July 2012. Twenty-four states were record warm for that 12-month period, and an additional twenty states were top-ten warm. The past fourteen months have featured America's 2nd warmest summer (in 2011), 4th warmest winter, and warmest spring. The summer of 2012 is on pace to be a top-five warmest summer on record, and could beat the summer of 1936 as the warmest summer in U.S. history.


Figure 1. When the temperature peaked at an all-time high of 108° in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 14, 1936, the want-ad staff at the 'St. Paul Daily News' was provided with 400 pounds of ice and two electric fans to cool the air in the press room. Photo from the Minnesota Historical Society.


Figure 2. Year-to-date temperature, by month, for 2012 (red), compared to the other 117 years on record for the contiguous U.S., with the five ultimately warmest years (orange) and five ultimately coolest years (blue) noted. The 2012 data are still preliminary. The year-to-date period of January - July was the warmest on record by a huge margin--1.0°F. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.


Figure 3. For the fourth consecutive month, a new U.S. record for hottest 12-month period was set in July 2012. Five of the top-ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since 1895 have occurred since April 2011. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Most extreme January - July period on record
NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 46% during the year-to-date January - July period. This is the highest value since CEI record-keeping began in 1910, and more than twice the average value. Remarkably, 83% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically during the first seven months of 2012, and 74% of the U.S. of the U.S. had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10%. The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions was 20%, which was the 16th greatest since 1910. Extremes in 1-day heavy precipitation events were the 24th greatest in the 103-year record.


Figure 4. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for January - July shows that 2012 has had the most extreme first seven months of the year on record, with 46% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather.

Little change to the U.S. drought during the past week
The great U.S. drought of 2012 remained about the same size and intensity over the past week, said NOAA in their weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report issued Thursday, August 9. The area of the contiguous U.S. covered by drought dropped slightly, from 63% to 62%, and the area covered by severe or greater drought stayed constant at 46%. The area of the country in the worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) doubled from 10 percent last month to 22 percent this month. The extreme dryness and excessive heat devastated crops and livestock from the Great Plains to Midwest. During July, the area of the U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought was 57%, ranking as the 5th largest drought in U.S. history:

1) Jul 1934, 80%
2) Dec 1939, 60%
3) Jul 1954, 60%
4) Dec 1956, 58%
5) Jul 2012, 57%



Video 1. This is Not Cool: Peter Sinclair's July 2012 video from the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media couples historical footage with contemporary clips and news segments. In one of the latter, for instance, NBC anchor Brian Williams opens the network’s flagship news program with the words: “It’s now official. We are living in one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years.” NASA scientist James Hansen is featured testifying about risks of “extreme droughts” in the nation’s breadbasket, and I'm featured in a few clips talking about the drought of 2012.

I'll have a new post by noon Saturday.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a post looking back at the great Heat Wave of July 1936.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
TD #7

Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)





Early Model Wind Forecasts

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
ADT is still impressed with TD7 (most likely a little too impressed).

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.1 /1003.5mb/ 47.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.1 / 3.4 / 4.0
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Quoting gordydunnot:
I think I see Rachael Welch in the Pacific. OOps
..LOL..geez i thought like that when i saw it too..geez
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I think I see Rachael Welch in the Pacific. OOps
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LOOKS LIKE A COC AT 14.6N 52W lol.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
wash........ I can't imagine how hot is was from you there... It had to really suck
Yes it did.Especially for people with breathing problems.Which is why I avoided going outside until the sun went down.
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Quoting CaribBoy:
TD7 trying to move a bit wnw?
..keeping a good eye on it for sure
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TD7 trying to move a bit wnw?
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Got me a little nervous, Alaska gotten closer to falling into the Pacific than just about anyone else.
..near anchorage they had a 5.something yesterday, it happens alot up there, same with california..the continent is moving slowly but surely, they all are
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All 28C+ water temps now for TD7 for a while.

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Quoting washingtonian115:
Here in D.C we had several days of 95+ degree heat with heat indexes off the charts.So it literally felt as if you were in a giant blanket that covered the earth.
wash........ I can't imagine how hot is was from you there... It had to really suck
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
I can remember growing up in Ohio years ago most people didn't have air conditioning... There were a few days of 100+ degrees . In my elementary school I can remember the heat.. Of course I glowed, Girls didn't sweat... It was miserable
..yes i remember too, grew up in manhattan, good thing summer only lasted about 2 months lol, no A/C too
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Got me a little nervous, Alaska gotten closer to falling into the Pacific than just about anyone else.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


:-) Well, you have to realize that 95 degrees with a heat index of 105 every day is cool for our standards in the summer.
Here in D.C we had several days of 95+ degree heat with heat indexes off the charts.So it literally felt as if you were in a giant blanket that covered the earth.
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36HR Surface CAPE
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Map of the 1936 Atlantic Hurricane Season:

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Quoting LargoFl:
..ok good, yes i hope these storms do cool us down, man that sun is HOT today
I can remember growing up in Ohio years ago most people didn't have air conditioning... There were a few days of 100+ degrees . In my elementary school I can remember the heat.. Of course I glowed, Girls didn't sweat... It was miserable
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............................lots of Lightning today
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
From the last blog... Please don't keep this political talk here everyone, as there is plenty of weather to discuss.




Thanks for the new blog too Dr. M. My 89 year old grandfather was talking about the Dust Bowl and he says he's never see it be this abnormally warm for this long in his life.
..........Not for nothing but WHY post this crap?..to start things up here again??????..geez it started off here so good too
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Largo........... I think the older I get the more the heat affects me... I just can't handle it like I used to.
yes I know what you mean, me too
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Quoting LargoFl:
..ok good, yes i hope these storms do cool us down, man that sun is HOT today
Largo........... I think the older I get the more the heat affects me... I just can't handle it like I used to.
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from local tv weather guy for tampa bay area.................A tropical wave is moving in from the Caribbean and will bring a slightly higher chance for rain this weekend. Rain will be heavy at times, but it will not be a rainout.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Oh yeah?.You mean to tell me while I was suffering in this hot and humid heat?.


:-) Well, you have to realize that 95 degrees with a heat index of 105 every day is cool for our standards in the summer.
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Polar shift???
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Nothing severe here , but very cloudy........Maybe it will bring the temperatures down a bit.
..ok good, yes i hope these storms do cool us down, man that sun is HOT today
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Quoting MississippiWx:
No doubt that it has been a hot one for most of the summer. Oddly enough, this has been one of the cooler summers in a few years where I live. We've consistently been in a weakness between the Plains ridge and A/B high. We've been lucky.
Oh yeah?.You mean to tell me while I was suffering in this hot and humid heat?.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
We have any earthquake experts here on the live earthquake map. They have 4 quakes in the last hour in a Alaska between 5.8-6.3. Are they changing the strength or are they separate quakes.


That was one earthquake, they changed the intensity to a 6.2 magnitude quake.
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My take on TD7...with TD7 being farther north that Ernesto, the chances of entering the GOM are greater and i believe future Gordon may surprise us in the western Carribean....but will struggle to maintain intensity throughout the eastern and central Carrib.. Just my opinion!!
Graph is NOT OFFICIAL!!
img src="Photobucket">
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Thank-you Dr. Masters! Looking at history on the graph,it then looks like we will be heading into a cooling period in this decade.
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No doubt that it has been a hot one for most of the summer. Oddly enough, this has been one of the cooler summers in a few years where I live. We've consistently been in a weakness between the Plains ridge and A/B high. We've been lucky.
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Good,.... we can get away from politics...

and discuss climate!

: )
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We have any earthquake experts here on the live earthquake map. They have 4 quakes in the last hour in a Alaska between 5.8-6.3. Are they changing the strength or are they separate quakes.
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Thanks Dr. Masters!!!
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Quoting LargoFl:
Nothing severe here , but very cloudy........Maybe it will bring the temperatures down a bit.
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Right, and no one ever talks about anything other than weather here.

Anyway, here is the big picture:


07L dealing with a lot of dry air to its north and west. A nice slow moving cold front is draped along the eastern CONUS. And a surface trough south of Cuba is being enhanced by the divergence that is being created by a TUTT of to its NE.
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Thanks Doc.I find it rather interesting that why it was hot the tropics here in the Atlantic were dead.This also occured in 2010 when it was hot and the atmosphere over the Atlantic was unfavorable.I think their is a correlation and if the planet continues to warm we could be talking about less and less T.C to track.
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Thank you Dr. Masters
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Bad storms all over it seems....................BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
152 PM CDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TALLAHASSEE HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EAST CENTRAL WALTON COUNTY IN THE PANHANDLE OF FLORIDA...
WESTERN WASHINGTON COUNTY IN THE PANHANDLE OF FLORIDA...

* UNTIL 215 PM CDT

* AT 149 PM CDT...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS DETECTED A SEVERE
THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60
MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR ROCK HILL...AND MOVING EAST AT 25
MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
EUCHEEANNA...SHADY GROVE...DOUGLASS CROSSROAD...KNOX HILL...RED
BAY...NEW HOPE...MILLERS FERRY...HOLMES VALLEY...WHITEHEAD
CROSSROADS...RED HEAD...HINSONS CROSSROADS...EBRO...BRUCE AND LIVE
OAK

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...PREPARE
IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE OUTSIDE SHOULD MOVE INSIDE A STRONG BUILDING BUT
AWAY FROM WINDOWS.



LAT...LON 3071 8614 3072 8604 3071 8603 3070 8570
3044 8578 3044 8586 3041 8588 3040 8591
3056 8619
TIME...MOT...LOC 1852Z 287DEG 21KT 3063 8608



42-DVD
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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
156 PM CDT FRI AUG 10 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
HANCOCK COUNTY IN SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF DIAMONDHEAD...
SOUTH CENTRAL PEARL RIVER COUNTY IN SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI...

* UNTIL 245 PM CDT

* AT 152 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN
EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING
FROM 7 MILES NORTH OF STENNIS SPACE CENTER TO STENNIS SPACE
CENTER...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 8 MILES SOUTHEAST OF
PICAYUNE TO 9 MILES SOUTH OF PICAYUNE...AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 10
MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO KILN
AND PEARLINGTON

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...PREPARE
IMMEDIATELY FOR DAMAGING WINDS...DESTRUCTIVE HAIL...AND DEADLY CLOUD
TO GROUND LIGHTNING. PEOPLE OUTSIDE SHOULD MOVE TO A SHELTER...
PREFERABLY INSIDE A STRONG BUILDING BUT AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

PLEASE FOLLOW OUR OFFICE ON BOTH FACEBOOK AND TWITTER FOR MORE
INFORMATION ON SEVERE WEATHER AND TO RELAY WEATHER REPORTS AND
PHOTOS.



LAT...LON 3045 8934 3038 8934 3019 8958 3031 8964
3031 8963 3034 8963 3036 8966 3041 8969
3043 8968 3060 8956
TIME...MOT...LOC 1856Z 309DEG 10KT 3047 8955 3039 8964



22/TD
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Many thanks doc, we needed that.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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